CHAMPAIGN — The latest employment figures for law school graduates show hiring has improved in the last year, including at the University of Illinois College of Law.
The American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar released employment data Friday on employment for the class of 2012 as of Feb. 15, nine months after graduation.
Law schools reported that 56.2 percent of the 46,364 graduates from the Class of 2012 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where passage of the bar exam was required, compared with 54.9 percent for the class of 2011 — a 1.3 percentage point increase.
And 9.5 percent of Class of 2012 were employed in long-term, full-time jobs where a law degree was an advantage, compared with 8.1 percent for the class of 2011 — a 1.4 percentage point increase.
The UI's numbers reflect larger increases in some categories. The number of UI graduates in full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage jumped from 97 (51 percent of the 190 total) for the Class of 2011 to 131 (61.5 percent of the 213 graduates) for the Class of 2012. Another 15 graduates from 2012 had part-time or short-term jobs in that category.
The number in full-time jobs where a law degree was an advantage rose from 10 to 13, but the percentage dropped from 10 to 4.6 percent.
The UI law school recently dropped 12 points in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, to No. 47, primarily because of a more detailed analysis of 2011 job-placement data based on new ABA reporting standards. The magazine placed greater emphasis on full-time, long-term jobs where admission to the bar was required or preferred. Previously, the rankings lumped together all jobs obtained by law school graduates, from short-term or part-time jobs to full-time legal positions.
Once a top-20 program, the law school had also slid from 23rd to 35th last year following disclosures that an assistant dean had fudged several years' worth of admissions data — a key factor in law school rankings.
When the newest rankings came out in early March, UI law Dean Bruce Smith predicted that the 2012 employment data — which will factor into next year's rankings — would show strong improvement. He said the Class of 2011 faced challenging job conditions.
The number of unemployed UI law graduates seeking jobs dropped from 30 for the Class of 2011, or (15.8 percent) to 22 (10.33 percent) for the Class of 2012.
Nationally, a glut of attorneys and the recession have prompted large law firms in particular to scale back hiring. That's resulted in a drop in law school applications, and several law schools have since cut their incoming class sizes as a result.
The class entering law school in 2010 was the largest on record. Since then, applicants and applications have decreased sharply, the ABA said.
In all, 173 of the 2012 UI graduates had jobs nine months after graduation, or just over 81 percent.
That's a slight increase over the 80 percent the previous year (152 of 190) for the Class of 2011.
For both of those graduating classes, about 10 percent of those jobs were university-funded positions, more than twice the national average.
Other national data, based on figures reported by law schools, show that:
— The percentage of positions funded by law schools dropped from 4.5 percent of total graduates to 3.9 percent.
— The percentage of graduates reported as unemployed/seeking employment rose 1.4 percentage points of total graduates to 10.6 percent from 9.2 percent.
— The number of class of 2012 graduates employed in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage was required rose 7.6 percent to 26,066 from 24,149.
The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar is the federally recognized accrediting agency for U.S. law schools.
For more data, go to: http://www.abanow.org/2013/03/aba-releases-class-of-2012-law-graduate-employment-data/